“Okay, gimme a minute. I need to sort this out. Questions; um, I need to, I wanna . . . “
I had my face in my hands, trying to put together a coherent sentence without any coherent thoughts in my head to do it with. Mossie laid a hand on my arm.
“Slow down. Take a breath, and let me. I’m not inside all this the way you two are, but writing it all down as I have makes some of it seem very clear. Rob, perhaps I can clarify or verify a few things?” Rob held his hands out, palms up, eyebrows raised.
“Fine. First, you have no question this woman, Siobhan, is with the police?”
“Private security specialist. Doesn’t get her picture in the papers if she can help it, but the guys I hired here have connections—no point hiring the second string. They recognized her; positive ID. And they gave her full marks for ethics. They didn’t split on the details, but I got the impression they trusted her the way I do Web.”
“Okay, so, clarification number one to Web’s perception of events: Siobhan is a white-hat, so to speak; one of the good guys. Or, girls, as may be” with a smile in my direction.
I really tried to resist it. If she was really on my side, I had to stop feeling angry and betrayed and feel—what? Not right now, pally, not right now.
“So, Mr. Big and Mr. ReallyBig, as Web called them—who are they? How did they know where to find him?”
“Conor Dubin. The little one, the brains, I mean. The other could have been any of his hired guns.”
The name meant nothing to me. I asked Rob and Mossie if it should. Surprisingly, Mossie answered.
“Unpleasant chap. His last name comes down from one of the ancient families in the southwest. Claims some of the ogham stones are his personal property, and in academic circles, it’s suspected he’s had some of the in situ examples replaced with substitutes. Stone that old isn’t hard to come by, y’know.” He smiled wryly.
“So, what would he want with me? He made it clear he knew what O’Quinn wanted, and that he wanted something from me as well. We just didn’t get around to what, thank goodness.”
“Dubin is looking for validation. He wants his claims to be accepted; he’s got some notion of using his family’s old name for either political or economic benefit; the rumours I’ve heard are vague, since rumours about Conor Dubin tend to end up sunk off the Aran Isles.”
“And perhaps he’s finally gotten the attention of the police?” I shouldn’t have assumed such an American perspective; I guess I was used to organized crime operating more or less openly in some U.S. cities.
“He’s had their attention for quite some time, thank you. Thus far, they haven’t been able to connect him directly with anything, or he’d have been put away. We don’t tolerate thugs like him, but we still have a fairly modern justice system, Dr. Martin.”
“Sorry; sorry, Mossie; sometimes I still drag my American non-culture along with me. My head tells me that if the garda had something on Dubin, he’d be locked up. But, sitting across the table from him gave me a more personal perspective on how scary he is.”
“I’d forgotten that. Indeed, my knowledge of the man comes from academic sources, and rumours at that. Had I sat to dinner with him, I might take things a bit more personally myself.”
Rob cut in. “So where is your cop; what’d you call her?”
“Siobhan.” Ah, Siobhan. I am a dolt. Really I am.
“Shavawn. Sounds French.”
“I can tell you’re spelling it wrong in your head. S—I—O—B—H—A—N. Siobhan. Gaelige for ‘Joan’, feminine of ‘John’, usually translated ‘grace of God.'”
“Okay, okay. Siobhan. Good-looking redhead. Which, according to my guys, isn’t the only good-looking part.”
I glared Rob into silence.
“D’you wanna know where she is or not? Not that I know for sure, any more.”
“Last time I saw her, she was asleep on a hotel bed in Lisdoonvarna.”
His eyebrows shot up to the point on top of his head.
“Not even. It’s a long story. A really, really long story. But before you get your blood pressure in trouble, she was fully clothed, laying on top of the covers. And I was sneaking out because I thought she was dangerous.”
“I can tell she is, to you at least.”
“Now, now, children. Behave. Rob, perhaps if I review my notes on what Web has told me thus far, we’d all be up to date, and could possibly formulate a plan of action.”
The waiter had returned with a third round for Rob and I, and lemon squash for Mossie, who’d already skipped out to the gent’s twice and hadn’t finished his second Guinness.
“Ready for your fish and chips, gentlemen?” I guess they really did know us here. “Yup.” Rob was nodding. Our server looked at Mossie.
“Soup and salad, with bread? Not much for fish, sorry to say.”
We all looked at him, but decided not to punish him unnecessarily.
Besides, it was his turn to talk. So, while we waited, he summarized my adventures so far for Rob.